OLYMPIA – When President Biden signed the federal Respect for Marriage Act on Tuesday, House Speaker Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma) was at the White House to celebrate the historic moment. The bill, granting federal protections to same-sex and interracial marriages, was signed 10 years after the first same-sex marriages began being legally performed in Washington state following passage of the marriage equality bill and voters approving retention of the law.
Jinkins, the first out lesbian elected to the Legislature, voted for that bill in her first term as a state legislator.
“Washington was one of the first states to pass marriage equality, and to be able to vote for legislation recognizing that the love and commitment between LGBTQ+ people is no different than that between others was an incredible honor,” Jinkins said. “The federal protections now granted by the Respect for Marriage Act will ensure all marriages performed in our state are recognized in every other state, regardless of what discriminatory actions other legislatures or the U. S. Supreme Court may take.”
In the years since marriage equality became law in Washington, the Legislature has taken further actions to protect LGBTQ+ individuals and families and ensure their civil rights are protected. A 2019 bill signed by the governor, HB 1732, strengthened Washington’s hate crime statutes and added “gender identity or expression” to this list of protected categories. It also created an advisory group to take a closer look at identifying the causes of hate crimes and helping prevent those crimes from occurring.
“I co-sponsored that bill because our state was seeing an increase in hate crimes, and everyone deserves to be safe in their communities,” Jinkins said. “We know we have more work to do. A Renton business was recently targeted by violence when one of its windows was shot ahead of a drag queen story hour event. I’m heartened by how many people showed up to support the business and the event, but LGBTQ+ people and their allies should be able to go about their lives in Washington without fearing for their personal safety.”
Jinkins is Washington’s first lesbian Speaker of the House. She was chosen Speaker by her House Democratic Caucus colleagues in 2019, and last month was again elected by the caucus to another term in that role.
When the 2023 Legislature convenes next month, lawmakers are likely to consider additional policies to address hate crimes and the rising threat of violence against LGBTQ+, religious minorities and BIPOC communities.
“Washington was at the forefront of marriage equality a decade ago, and will continue to lead the way when it comes to protecting civil rights and ensuring hate has no place here,” said Jinkins. “As House Democrats, we will continue standing strong for LGBTQ+ rights and rejecting hate in our communities. I am returning from the other Washington inspired to continue that work with my colleagues here in the Legislature.”